I’m having a really hard time finding any reason to pick Andy Murray to upset Novak Djokovic Sunday in the Miami Open final. I’ve been digging through their head-to-head numbers, watching tape, eating right and going to the gym, but nothing has jumped out and screamed, “Pick Andy!”
Since returning from back surgery, the Scot has been Dominated (with a capital D) by Djokovic who has won their last six meetings including a blow out last month in Indian Wells.
Murray doesn’t care much for that court in Indian Wells where he has never won – the balls fly a lot, he says. He prefers the heavier, slower, lower-bouncing conditions in Miami, where he also calls his second home and often trains in those commercials. So there’s added familiarity.
“There are little things in the court that maybe players that haven’t played on it that much won’t really know,” Murray said of the Stadium Court. “Because I practice on it all the time, I know how the ball bounces in certain areas and which serves work into certain spots on the court and how the ball responds off different spins.
So that’s why I feel comfortable on it.’
Problem is, Djokovic likes Miami more than Indian Wells, also. The Serb, who just won Indian Wells, has won the Miami three of the last four years, losing only to Tommy Haas in 2013 (Murray went on to win the title that year).
And going bigger picture, he leads Murray 17-8 winning nine straight on hardcourts. And outside of Slams he’s been razor-sharp in finals.
That said, Murray did play really well at the Australian Open for about 2.5 sets. But geez, what happened at Indian Wells? Maybe Andy will be motivated to make up for that humiliating loss and end the skid?
“The fact that I won I think last six, seven matches that we played against each other, especially the one just recently in Indian Wells, gives me confidence and maybe a slight mental advantage,” said Djokovic. “But we’re talking about small margins. That’s always the case when we play against each other. Very few points, details can decide a winner. We have very similar games. We already played twice this year, and of course in a big match in Australian Open final which was very, very physical, very close.
“I expect a battle, long rallies, and I know what is expecting me on the court. I know his game pretty well, as well as he knows mine.”
If there anything Murray’s can focus on it’s the fact Djokovic isn’t playing his best like he was in Australia. John Isner was exhausted last night. David Ferrer had him earl on and both Martin Klizan and Alexandr Dolgopolov took sets with Alex just a few games from victory.
Then again, Murray hasn’t exactly been tearing up his Miami court either. But if both are a bit sloppy, that should help Andy who by nature is a little sloppy.
The key for Andy – and for the match, I think – will be his second serve. Maybe Andy has lost some zip on it since the surgery. And he’ll – as always against the top guys – have to be offensive. Hanging back and hoping won’t work against the World No. 1.
I can’t remember the last time I didn’t pick Novak. Yeah, he’s let me down before and he’ll surely do it again. I just don’t think that happens Sunday.
The pick: Djokovic in two
ESPN2 has live coverage of the men’s final starting at 1pm. Happy Easter everyone.
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